Monday, November 23, 2009

Self-publishing versus Vanity/subsidy Press

Recently, several major publishers, including Harlequin and Thomas Nelson, have announced self-publishing options for authors under their brand name. In Harlequin's case, it is Harlequin Horizons.

You pay them for various services including editing, covers, etc., and they publish your book in paper and in common ebook formats like the Kindle.

But are these services really self-publishing, or are they vanity/subsidy press?

Here are working definitions of these two types of publishing--

SELF-PUBLISHING: The author must find a printer, editor, etc., and must pay for each service, then must find the distribution services, as well. All profit goes to the author.

SELF-PUBLISHING THROUGH A ONE-STOP PRINTER: Some printers offer all the services necessary to publish a book. Each service is paid by the author. All profit goes to the author.

VANITY/SUBSIDY PRESS: They offer all the services necessary to publish a book like the one-stop printer. You can buy in for the basic service, then you can add on various services like editing, cover art, etc. The vanity/subsidy press, however, then takes a large cut of the profit with no risk or cost to itself.

By these definitions, Harlequin Horizons is a vanity/subsidy press because they take 50% of the profit.

If you'd like to study a line by line explanation of Harlequin Horizons' promises to authors, and what those promises really mean, I suggest Jackie Kessler's blog on the subject.

What do I think of all this? I believe that an author should educate herself on all the options and make an informed choice. An educated writer won't be a victim to the parasites of dreams who prey on writers.

For the next few days, I'm going to publish a series of blogs about all the publishing options available to an author. I'll talk about the pros and cons of each method so you can decide which is right for you.

I'd appreciate it if you would share this special blog event with your writing friends, etc.

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